By Deogratias Mmana
Southern African Development Community (Sadc) civil society organisations operating under the banner Southern African People’s Solidarity Network (Sapsn) have said the regional block has not fared well during the one-year leadership of the outgoing President Lazarus Chakwera.
However, government has given the President a positive rating.
Chakwera, who took over Sadc leadership from Mozambican president Filipe Nyusi in August last year, is expected to hand over the mantle to the Democratic Republic of Congo president Felix Tshisekedi this week.
Malawi also became chairperson for Sapsn chaired by the Malawi Economic Justice Network and will be handing over the baton to the DRC next week.
Addressing the media on Saturday in Lilongwe, chairperson for the commissions under Sapsn in Malawi, Limbani Nsapato said the network would give Chakwera’s one year of Sadc leadership 40 percent.
He said the regional body has a lot to improve in the areas of natural resources and extractive governance; economic and democratic governance; human capital development and social inclusion; climate change, environmental justice and disaster management and labour, trade and markets.
Nsapato said there is huge unemployment among the youth in the region and faulted Chakwera for not setting a good example by hiring retirees.
Nsapato said while Chakwera may have good reasons for hiring retirees, he needs to respect the law that limits the work tenure.
Under economic and democratic governance, the CSOs say the Sadc countries have not given space for engagement with non-state actors and that Sadc has not been able to provide information regarding the body’s interventions on regional economic governance, human rights, debt and aid and civil space.
“CSOs community in the region have a shared view and seek to bring to the attention of the summit that legal and policy framework governing mining in the region is not adequate and competent to strike a delicate balance between economic development and social responsibility,” Nsapato said.
But Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson John Kabaghe said despite various challenges like Covid-19, Chakwera performed well during his one-year tenure.
“Against a backdrop of the various global challenges currently happening, His Excellency the President has done a decent and commendable job as Sadc chairperson. Malawi has managed to host all scheduled sectoral meetings. His Excellency the President facilitated appropriate regional responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate change induced disasters and the security situation,” Kabaghe said.
He added that Malawi has been successful and exemplary in areas such as CSO participation in the civic space.
“This process of showcasing sometimes facilitates peer learning process among Sadc member states better than direct lobbying,” he said.